Working Remotely: How Is Your Business Managing Communication & Conflict?
Why Is Workplace Culture Important Even When Remote?
Workplace culture has always been an integral part of an organization but it is an increasing challenge when working remotely.
Having a great culture in your company isn’t about zoning in on individual achievements. Rather, it’s about how the team works together as a cohesive unit.
While many leaders may believe that in order for this to be fostered being in the same physical space is necessary. That is not the case, it is just done differently.
So, why is it important that you are encouraging a workplace culture for your remote team?
No matter where your employees are located, an effective team culture provides your employees with:
- Open communication and trust which keeps the team cohesive
- An understanding as to how their individual work fits into the overall big picture of the company’s objectives
- An environment where employees can voice their opinions and ideas without judgement
- A shared sense of values that are important for the team and the company
Many of your employees getting used to a new work routine. However, it can blur the lines between their workspace and home life, and cause unprecedented stress.
It is your job as a leader to ensure that workplace culture stays cohesive whether you are in the office or working remotely.
How Can Remote Working Emphasize Conflict And Communication Issues?
Effective and open communication is absolutely crucial when employees are working remotely. Without it, everything falls apart. However, in trying times like the COVID-19 pandemic many employees face unprecedented stressors coupled with the inability to see work colleagues face to face; there is a high chance that communication will suffer.
Remote work can blur the boundaries between home life and work life.
For example, some employees now have to juggle homeschooling and childminding at the same time as they work. This can lead to further stress and tensions at home. If tensions are high at home, this can lead to inappropriate workplace behaviour like snapping at colleagues. And as we all know, inappropriate workplace behaviour can lead to further tensions and breakdowns in communication.
Other communication challenges such as miscommunication can also become more evident when working remotely. With a lack of face-to-face communication, many individuals aren’t able to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are needed to get a message across to a coworker. After all, communication via email or other messaging channels such as Slack can be easily misinterpreted.
What Are Common Stressors Employees Face When Working Remotely?
Workplace stress is a global issue and isn’t one that is saved for the office.
As an employer, it is important to recognize that your remote team is facing workplace stressors on a daily basis. And the added concerns that COVID-19 have brought such as an unstable economy, homeschooling children and uncertain job security can all lead to and create grounds for conflict.
While these stressors are unprecedented and being felt globally, there are a number of core stress factors that many remote workers face on a regular basis.
No Social Interaction
Remote workers can often suffer from a sense of loneliness, especially those employees that live by themselves. Lack of social interaction can have a very negative impact on an employee’s stress levels and mental health. When work communication is kept purely to email or short phone calls, it eliminates the ability to have casual conversations between coworkers that many people rely on as part of their working day.
People are social creatures after all. And if you are no longer able to grab lunch or a coffee with your coworkers and discuss non-work related topics, it can stressful for employees.
Working Longer Hours
Working from home can often mean that some employees find it harder to monitor their working hours especially if they are already feeling overwhelmed. With easy accessibility to their laptop and no longer needing to commute to and from work, many employees can actually lead themselves to burnout.
However, it is important to note that some leaders and managers can also fall victim to thinking that their employees are more available to work outside regular office hours when they’re working remotely. This workplace stressor can be toxic for employees so it is vital that all managers are ensuring their team aren’t overworked and are managing their work time effectively.
Just because you can’t see your employees, doesn’t mean that they aren’t facing stress in the workplace Workplace stress leads to many employees leaving their companies on a regular basis. Do not assume that working remotely from home leads to job satisfaction.
How Do You Manage Conflict Resolution Remotely?
When it comes to conflict resolution it is important that you as a business owner work quickly and effectively to understand why this conflict is taking place and put measures in place to improve the team dynamic.
Avoiding Communication Issues
It is your responsibility to ensure that communications with all employees are transparent and inclusive.
When team members are dispersed across different locations, it can be easy for one person to fall out of the loop. Avoid this by having company-wide communication channels or group chats. That means all employees will be kept up to date with company announcements and it reduces the chance of miscommunication occurring.
Task & Project Management Systems
If tasks aren’t completed on time, this can also be a source of conflict and tension for employees. Avoid this by clearly defining the expectations, objectives and deadlines for tasks and delegate these fairly among employees. Using a clear task assignment system such as tools like Monday.com or Asana can help to create accountability and gives transparency to the responsibilities of each team member meaning everyone is on the same page.
Open Lines of Communication for HR issues
Additionally, all managers should be providing employees with a group chat or open forum which is dedicated to hearing concerns in order to address issues in a constructive and transparent way. When it comes to conflict management, there are always ways that you can mitigate and resolve conflict easily in your organization.
How Do You Improve Communication Remotely?
If you feel that workplace communication has deteriorated since your company has begun working from home, there are a number of steps that you can take as a business leader to get communications back on track.
Remember, effective communication is vital for a strong team culture.
Try some of our tried and tested tips for ensuring that your team’s communication skills continue to excel even when working from home:
- Establish how information is to be shared online e.g. email, group chat or collaborative team software programs
- Set up regular touchpoints each day such as a morning coffee chat or digital lunch breaks to connect with other team members or just to catch up socially
- Clarify the responsibilities that each team member has while working from home and what it means to be a good digital team member
The art of communication is one that all leaders need to cultivate especially in times like these when skills like active listening can make a huge improvement to employee communication levels.
Training Company: How We Can Provide Long-Term Solutions
Managing employees as they are working remotely can be a challenge especially if this is something that you’ve never come up against prior to COVID-19. However, with the right leadership and communication skills, you will be effective at ensuring your workplace culture is kept intact and cohesive even when employees aren’t in the office together.
With our Insights Discover and Conflict Management training we can help your team learn to effectively communicate. We help employees understand their preferences for communication and that their colleague’s preferences can differ. We teach you the skills to recognize another person’s communication in order for you to respond in the most appropriate and effective way. We help you understand how to not take conflict personally and address the miscommunication proactively.
We are a Canadian corporate training company that can help your business develop the skills needed for effective communication and stress management.
We will teach you and your employees techniques to stay happy and productive.
We have an extensive list of professional courses, accessible through our Learning Management System. All eLearning and instructor-led training can be facilitated online. This means that you and your employees can access the benefit of professional training from the comfort of your own home, on any device.
Interested in hearing about how our team at Training Company can help you put long-term communication solutions in place for your company?
Get in touch with Training Company today.